Sir Ben Kingsley to Headline Houston Symphony's Opening Night Gala
Kingsley is best-known for his titular role in the 1983 film, Gandhi, for which he earned an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 for his services to the British film industry, he began his professional acting career with his acceptance into the Royal Shakespeare Company starring in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest and Julius Caesar in addition to playing the title roles of Othello and Hamlet, among others. He went on to star in television and film roles with memorable performances in Bugsy, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, House of Sand and Fog, and countless more. Most recently, Kingsley starred in Disney's blockbuster live-action remake of The Jungle Book, where he brings to life Bagheera, the panther who looks over Mowgli.
With his incomparable voice and under the direction of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Kingsley will serve as the narrator for Prokofiev's musical tale about Peter, a boy who outsmarts a wolf with the help of a duck, a cat and a bird. Composed in 1936, Prokofiev was commissioned by the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow to write a piece that would familiarize children with the instruments of the orchestra. The resulting work, Peter and the Wolf, has earned its place as a beloved classic for all generations of music lovers.
Peter and the Wolf has been performed by a plethora of orchestras and conductors and has attracted an endless list of distinguished narrators from every field, including Itzhak Perlman, Mia Farrow, Sting, David Bowie, Leonard Bernstein, Patrick Stewart, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev. Alongside live symphonic performances, the composition has been recorded numerous times, counting one by Kingsley himself. In 1996, he collaborated with the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of the work led by Sir Charles Mackerras.
A storytelling thread will weave the evening's program together, as Rossini's Overture to The Thieving Magpie and Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier will also be performed.